For the past several decades, information about mesothelioma had been scarce and inconclusive, making this form of cancer one of the most indefinite and unspecified diseases in modernhistory. As physicians, scientists and various medical research experts learn more about this fatal disease, we’ve been able to determine that the greatest asset we have in battling this disease is information. Because mesothelioma carries such a great latency period, this disease is often misdiagnosed because the symptoms are so similar to more common and treatable illnesses.
MesotheliomaSymptoms.com is an extensive database of information and resources for patients and their families to better understand the symptoms of mesothelioma and the various aspects ofdiagnosis, prognosis, treatment, and many other factors of survival. Information regarding mesothelioma will continue to become more prevalent over the next 10 years, as scientists are working effortlessly to better understand this terrible disease. With this new information comes hope and progress, and patients, their families, and the general public can continue their growth in knowledge and awareness, and through that this disease can be combated.
Currently, as many as 3,000 people will be diagnosed with mesothelioma each year, and that number is only expected to increase in conjunction with the widespread use of asbestos throughout the last century. There is no cure for mesothelioma, but that does not mean that something cannot be done to prevent the spread of this cancer. By identifying symptoms early, life expectancy can be increased, creating a better quality of life for patients and their loved ones.
Types of Mesothelioma
Pleural mesothelioma is the most common type of this disease, occurring in 75 percent of cases. This cancer develops in the pleura, which is the lining of the lung.
Peritoneal mesothelioma is found in the peritoneal membrane in the stomach. This type accounts for less than 20 percent of cases.
Pericardial mesothelioma forms in the pericardium, which is the lining of the heart. This type accounts for less than 5 percent of cases.
Testicular mesothelioma is the rarest form of the cancer. It develops in the testicles. There have been very few diagnosed cases of testicular mesothelioma.
Symptoms of mesothelioma usually do not appear for 20 to 50 years after asbestos exposure. When symptoms do appear, it may still be difficult to diagnose mesothelioma, as the symptoms often mimic other diseases likeasbestosis, as well as typical respiratory illnesses and even the common cold. The symptoms vary according to the type of mesothelioma. Those with pleural mesothelioma often exhibit persistent coughing, chest pains, shortness of breath, fatigue and lumps on the chest, under the skin. Those with the peritoneal type may experience abdominal pain, weight loss and nausea. Pericardial mesothelioma causes irregular heartbeats, palpitations, breathing difficulties, chest pain and night sweats. Testicular mesothelioma causes lumps on the testicles that may or may not be painful.
A physician will perform a review of a patient's medical history and conduct a physical examination. If the findings suggest something abnormal, the doctor may order some diagnostic tests, such as X-rays, MRI scans, CT scans or PET scans. These tests are used to locate the cancer, identify the size and determine the type of cancer. A biopsy is usually also ordered to test fluid and tissue samples and see if the mesothelioma is benign or malignant.
After a diagnosis of mesothelioma is confirmed, the next step is to decide the course of treatment. Treatment may include chemotherapy, radiation orsurgery. Patients usually choose a combination of treatments, as it helps the body aggressively fight the cancer and lengthen the patient's life expectancy. Mesothelioma patients are often given only one year to live following diagnosis, although early diagnosis and aggressive treatment may improve the outcome.
Besides the three most common types of treatment, there are also experimental treatments such as gene therapy, immunotherapy and photodynamic therapy. However, these options have not been fully researched and approved for use and may only be available through clinical trials. Participation in clinical trials, though sometimes risky, may increase the chance of a cure being discovered.
Throughout the last century, countless numbers of people were exposed to asbestos in their work environment. The dangers were unknown to many, and companies that manufactured products containing asbestos did not make any efforts to protect workers or even make them aware. Many people are able to seek legal recourse to receive compensation for medical bills, pain and suffering.